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Lycopene Reduces Risk of Heart Disease

Lycopene has previously been found to be useful in prostate cancer. Now, newer studies show that lycopene, a carotenoid, without vitamin A activity has significant antioxidant potential and has a role in preventing cardiovascular disease. Lycopense is found in high concentrations in a small number of plant foods such as:

  • tomato products
  • watermelon
  • pink grapefruit
  • papaya
  • apricot

More than 80 percent of the lycopene intake in the American diet is from the consumption of tomato products, including ketchup, tomato juice, and tomato sauces. Lycopene may have a cholesterol synthesis?inhibiting effect that may enhance LDL degradation. Lycopene is one of the most potent singlet oxygen quenchers, which suggests that it may have comparatively stronger antioxidant properties than other major plasma carotenoids. Interestingly, in this study correlations among tomato products with plasma lycopene were highest for tomato sauce, which is consistent with the lipophilic properties of lycopene that require the simultaneous ingestion of fats for optimal absorption.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition January 2004 Vol. 79, No. 1, 47-53

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